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Melanie's proud of her mum's education milestone

On the last day of my prac work I was at a care facility and the director of nursing called me into her office and offered me a job. It was the best feeling!

A commitment to learning new things runs in the family. Half way through her first year at high school, Melanie is relishing new experiences, especially taking music classes for the first time.

“I like music. I learned to play all the notes on the keyboard,” says Melanie.

Judy is delighted to see Melanie continue to grow and extend herself at school.

“When she’s not doing assignments and stuff she's playing her keyboard. We watched that INXS mini-series and she fell in love with a couple of the songs and she just played along,” says Judy.

While Judy’s new role is a great step forward for the family, it will mean some changes. Yet with Melanie’s maturity and dedication to her school work, Judy is confident they can make the transition smoothly.

I haven’t done assessments or assignments or anything for years and that was a little bit challenging. Both my girls are so proud of me. It just shows them that at any age you can get out there and have a go.

Sadly the obstacles Melanie and Judy were facing affect many Australian families in need. Often lacking an education themselves, parents must take on a number of part-time jobs just to make ends meet. Without support, they find themselves in a cycle of day-to-day survival with no opportunity to better their circumstances.

“I had a cleaning business. When you clean four or five houses a day and some offices, it's hard on your body and my body was starting to break down,” says Judy.

Options were limited for Judy and financial pressures meant she couldn’t give up her job, even though she knew that to support her family in the long-term she would need a new profession. But the generosity of Melanie’s sponsor helped make it possible. Knowing Melanie’s education essentials were provided for eased the financial burden enough for Judy to undertake her studies.

“If it wasn't for The Smith Family we would not be in this position today. I really struggled before The Smith Family took us on board. I went without; it was a struggle to ensure the girls never went without. I had three jobs at one stage.”

With experience caring for her father and grandfather, Judy spoke to someone at her local job centre and decided on a Certificate III in Aged Care. After 150 hours of practical work at a nursing home and more with dementia patients, Judy secured a new position.

Melanie studying
Thanks to her sponsor, Melanie has the essentials she needs to fit in at school

“If I was on afternoon shift I would cook my dad's meal and Mel's dinner in the morning. She'd only have to come home from school, do her homework and feed her pets. Kids thrive on that little bit of independence.”

Filled with optimism for the future, Judy says Melanie’s sponsorship has opened doors for the whole family. And the emotional support from their Smith Family Program Coordinator, Kim, gave Judy the encouragement she needed when things got tough.

“I've had a few little issues in my life in the past and I rang Kim. She had a little chat to me and we got through it,” says Judy (pictured to the right).

“Without The Smith Family’s help we would never, ever be in the position that we are in today. We are so grateful for the help.”

Melanie with Learning for Life Program Coordinator Kim and Melanie's mum Judy
Learning for Life Program Coordinator, Kim (left), offers support to Melanie (centre) and mum Judy (right)

It’s a time of celebration in Melanie’s house. Completing your studies and landing a new job is a triumphant moment. Even more so for a 52-year-old single mum raising a teenage daughter and caring for her father.

Yet for Melanie’s mum, Judy, the hard work has been worth it. Determined to show her daughters that education can transform your life no matter what your age, Judy has completed her studies in aged care and has been offered a role as a nurse.

Melanie, now in high school, is proud of her mum

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